Physics Van 3-site Navigational Menu

Physics Van Navigational Menu

Q & A: The Bright, Bright Center of the Galaxy

Learn more physics!

Most recent answer: 05/12/2010
Q:
I understand that our night sky is the way it is because we are out on the edge of one of the spiral arms of our galaxy. Assuming there was a earth-like planet close to the galactic core, what would that planets night sky look like? Since there would be more stars visible, and they would be much closer together than here, how much different would it be to Earth? Comparable to a full moon here? Brighter? Thanks..
- Mike Thompson
Centralian College, Alice Springs, NT, Australia
A:
Mike -

There's a nice website with discussion about the center of the Galaxy
by Barbara Ryden at Ohio State. It has pretty pictures and a very clear discussion, and directly addresses your (very good) question.

Quoting from this:

"Within a parsec or so of the center, the density of stars is 10 million stars per cubic parsec. To put this number in perspective, the density of stars in the Sun's neighborhood is only 0.2 stars per cubic parsec. Near the center of our galaxy, the average distance between neighboring stars is only 1000 A.U. If the star Sirius were only 1000 A.U. from the Sun, it would be twelve times brighter than the full moon. If we lived close to the galactic center, the night sky would be full of stars with extremely high apparent brightness. We would be able to read by starlight at night."

-Tamara

(published on 10/22/2007)

Follow-Up #1: url fix

Q:
Hello, the correct URL to Barbara Ryden's page is: http://www.astronomy.ohio-state.edu/~ryden/ast162_7/notes31.html thanks!
- Anonymous
A:
Thanks!

(published on 05/12/2010)

Follow-up on this answer.